Affiliate marketing is a beautiful lie that promises millions in passive income but in reality rarely goes beyond penny-commissions.
And even when the rewards and commissions are higher, it’s not possible for broke bedroom marketers like you to compete with the big players and claim your tiny market share and build a sustainable passive income from your niche website.
If you think like that, you're not alone.
There are millions of struggling niche marketers who feel exactly the same.
But you’re still wrong.
Last year I shared niche marketing lessons from ViralNova, a viral news blog started and managed by one man and sold for $100 million from the comfort of his bedroom.
Today, I’ll share marketing lessons from another success story, MoneySavingExpert.com, a blog sold for almost 90 million pounds.
What You’ll Learn in This Post
- How a one-man blog got sold for millions of dollars
- How MoneySavingExpert is different from other niche blogs
- One simple technique to build trust and credibility with your audience
- How MSE grew their email list to 10 million subscribers
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
If you’re in the UK, you might have heard about MoneySavingExpert.com, the largest personal finance blog in the kingdom.
It was started in 2003 by Martin Lewis, who is now considered a high profile financial commentator and expert.
In 2012, Martin sold MSE for 87 million pounds, while staying as the editor-in-chief of his website.
In 9 years, Martin grew his team from 0 to almost 90 professional journalists, editors, and financial experts.
MSE has gone from just a few hundred visitors to over 23 million page views per month, according to Similar Web.
Today MSE has a global audience and the blog earns millions in monthly revenue by reviewing products and affiliate commissions.
The thing that makes MSE a remarkable success story is their focus on giving value to their audience even at the expense of their revenue.
Their blogs, articles, newsletters and all other content is full of actionable money saving advice that helps their audience immediately take action.
They are value driven affiliate marketers with real business values and a long-term approach.
So whether you’re just starting out as a niche marketer or trying to take your passive income dreams to the next level, there are many lessons you can learn from the success of MoneySavingExpert.com
Let’s discuss some of them in detail.
1. Target a Small Niche With a Passionate Audience and Grow With Time
Choosing the right niche is absolutely crucial for the success of a niche marketing business.
This is why we regularly share in-depth niche research reports to help you make the right choice.
MoneySavingExpert.com is a great example of what we preach here at Nichehacks.com.
Just like our laser targeted niche research reports, MSE caters to a very well defined audience that is passionate about a very specific need – cutting costs and saving money.
Here’s what the About page of MSE says about its audience
Look how they’ve highlighted the 25% pay rise that an average person in the UK can give themselves by following their advice.
That is a great example of a clear value proposition.
So often niche sites fail to clearly communicate one problem that they can help their audience solve.
This never allows them to focus on one core topic and prevents them from becoming niche experts.
The right approach is to start with a narrow focus and gradually move into related topics as your audience expands.
MSE started with content on savings and cost cutting. But over the years they’ve included separate sections for tools, resources, deal and even charity.
2. Use Transparency to Build Trust and Credibility
What’s the best way to get more subscribers, generate more sales and create more brand advocates that pull in more customers to your business?
The answer lies in one word – Trust
If people start trusting you as a person, as a brand, as a niche expert, their wallets open much more regularly for your offers and products.
And the quickest way to win trust online is by being transparent.
Leading affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn and Matthew Woodward have been openly sharing their monthly income reports, their experiments, their successes and even their failures.
Brands like Groove and Buffer have done the same and immediately found a dedicated audience that started trusting them.
MoneySavingExpert.com has also been transparent about its operations from Day 1.
In fact it has a dedicate page that mentions everything about how the site is financed, what costs are incurred, and what they plan to do next.
And even when it was acquired by the MoneySpuerMarket Group in 2012, they developed a legally binding editorial code that ensured transparency in all their content.
Here’s an extract from it.
“MoneySavingExpert.com will continue to follow its founding principles. Its primary job is to ensure it provides the best information to help consumers, based on journalistic research, and the editorial line will stay independent of any commercial objectives or influence.
We will continue to highlight to users how the site is financed – and if a paid link is used, where practical, give you an alternative, unpaid link.”
They’ve taken the concept of transparency to a whole new level which is why their readers trust them for advice on financial matters.
The lesson for you is obvious.
If you want to cut through all the noise in your niche and want people to trust you, be as transparent as you can about your business.
3. Create Insanely Useful, Actionable and Detailed Content That Solves Problems
You can’t build a successful blog without creating quality content.
But quality needs to be defined very clearly.
Quality is not about the complexity of your words or the length of your sentences.
It’s the usefulness of your content.
The value your readers get from it.
The problems it solves and the solutions it offers.
Without creating high-quality content that is insanely useful and immediately actionable, you can’t build a loyal readership.
And MSE is a great example to follow when it comes to problem solving content.
They’ve built a reputation for consistently producing content that helps readers take action and make a difference in their lives.
For example, this mammoth guide on saving money tells readers everything they need to know to start saving and investing.
It is full of actionable tips based on different scenarios and circumstances that most middle class Brits face.
And this is just one guide.
The site has dozens of other categories like banking, insurance, financing, real estate etc. with detailed guides and how to posts.
On top of that, they’ve created a ton of free tools and resources for their audience which take them way beyond average affiliate marketers.
The usefulness of their content is one of the main reasons why they have millions of monthly readers.
And here’s the lesson for you.
As long as your content keeps solving the core problems of your audience, and helps them take action, people will keep coming to your blog.
4. Focus on Building a Loyal Community Around Your Niche Site by Helping People
One of the biggest assets of MSE is its huge community of loyal followers.
There are more than 10 million people on their email list.
But their real strength is the MSE Forum, which is the seventh biggest social networking site in the UK.
It has more than 1.5 million registered users that contribute articles, ask questions, discuss different money related issues and help other members solve their problems.
This community is also one of the biggest traffic sources to the main site.
The forum has a full-time management and administrative team that moderates the content and responds to questions where necessary.
Other than that, MSE and its CEO Martin Lewis have a combined social media following of more than 500,000.
This didn’t happen overnight.
Martin Lewis started the forum way back in 2003 and used it as the main platform for engaging with his audience, listening to their problems and sharing his advice.
To be successful at niche marketing, you also need to build a community around your brand.
I’m not saying you should start a forum right away, because it’s not easy to manage a forum with limited resources.
But look for ways to bridge the gap between you and your audience. If it can be achieved through a Facebook Group, like the NicheHacks Group, or any other platform, do it.
Because ultimately it’s the strength of your community that will take your business to the next level.
5. Never Compromise Your Values for Short-Term Gains
MSE lies in one of the most lucrative niches on the web.
Based on the size of their audience, they can easily make millions of dollars just by publishing sponsored articles and stories promoting different products.
But that is against one of the core values of MSE, which is to create content purely for the reader’s benefit.
Here’s what the site says about this
“Companies cannot pay to appear on the site. Guides are written purely from a 'what's the best way to save money?' stance. Once the guides are finished, it's one of the team's job to see if they can find 'affiliate links' to the top products.
The MoneySaving guides are written then, totally separately, paid links are looked for. If no paying link is available, nothing in the guide changes. If the best is the best and doesn't pay, it stays the best. The link used is simply 'non-affiliated', ie, non-paying. Financial considerations do not impact inclusion in articles.”
Sticking to such values might hold you back in the short-term, but the brand image that it helps you build pays off multiple times in the long-run.
6. Turn Your Emails into Value Rich Messages That People Wait For
Email is one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience and help them consume your content.
Yet very few niche blogs use it the right way.
Most of the times you’ll find affiliate marketers sending one promotional email after the other without providing any real value to the subscriber.
MSE has done this completely differently.
Instead of sending sales pitches and product offers to their subscribers, they’ve created a value rich weekly email newsletter series that contains discounts, deals and money saving tips for their subscribers.
Every newsletter is also available on the main website and gets shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter.
You can call them short blog posts with quick tips and action items.
Here’s what they say about their newsletter.
“This isn't a site with an email, it's an email with a website to back it up. All the latest deals, guides and loopholes go in the Martin's Money Tips weekly email. More than two-thirds of the best deals expire within a week, and the email's aim is to ensure you don't miss out.”
The newsletter is so popular that their email list currently has more than 10 million subscribers.
In simple words, even if Google wipes off every page of MSE from its search results, they’d still be able to drive millions of visitors to their site from their email list.
7. Repurpose Your Best Content To Expand Your Reach and Drive More Traffic
Creating high quality content is hard work because it not only requires a lot of research and data gathering, but also takes to time to compose and format properly.
Which is why it’s foolish to publish this content once and forget it.
Smart marketers repurpose their content into different other formats to not only prolong its life but also attract users from different platforms.
For example, you can publish a blog post on “7 Ways to Lose Weight without Giving up Your Favorite Meals”.
You can then repurpose this into a short video using the same content, and use its audio version in Podcasts.
Or convert this into a Slideshare presentation, a PDF eBook or an infographic.
Doing this will not only help you reach new audiences with the same content, but also help you earn new backlinks to your site.
MSE does exactly the same.
They have a widely followed YouTube channel where they often discuss the same tips published on their blog. They also regularly convert their high performing posts into infographics.
8. Find People With Complimenting Skills To Join Your Team and Grow Your Business
Martin Lewis started MoneySavingExpert.com as a one-man blog.
But as the audience on his blog grew, he started adding team members to help him with content creation, site management, research and a lot of other different things.
Today, he has more than 80 full-time employees running the site.
He could’ve easily chosen to do everything himself (something that most niche marketers try to do)
Instead he chose to expand his business by joining hands with people who could compliment his skills and help him grow faster.
As with most investments, this doesn’t pay off immediately.
But it’s one of the best decisions the owner of a growing niche site can make.
Stuart has shared several times how building a team for NicheHacks has helped him focus more on growing the business, instead of getting caught up in the day to day activities and losing the bigger picture
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Are You the Next Affiliate Marketing Success Story?
MoneySavingExpert.com is a million dollar blog today but it was started by one man with limited resources.
There’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
Affiliate marketing has much more earning potential than $0.89 commissions from dodgy product review sites.
Start thinking big.